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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 October 2018
COMMUNITY 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 OCTOBER 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Abduction victim meets her saviour 60 years later The tale of a man and a woman who found each other many years after the former rescued the latter from a kidnapping attempt in Egypt Fate works in strange ways sometimes; at least that is the case for Victorian resident Helen Perikkentis and Queensland hotel owner Miltiades Neofytou. It was almost 60 years ago, when both left their home country of Cyprus in search of a better future in Australia. They had been in Cairo for five days, waiting for the ship that would take them to their new home. Ms Perikkentis was with her mother and three sisters, her father already being in Australia, waiting for his family. When the ship reached the port, many were waiting to board and leave Egypt. Mr Neofytou was one of them; he was standing at the door of the hotel that he was staying, until it was time for him to depart. A few metres away was the Perikkentis family, with a worried mother crying out in agony for her child. She caught the attention of the then15-year-old Neofytou, who didn't really understand what she was saying until he approached her. "Where is my child?" cried the woman. Mr Neofytou began to search for the missing child, asking one of the hotel's waiters for assistance. Their search brought them to a shady building within which there was a large number of people, and in the centre was a five-year-old Helen Perikkentis, sitting silently on a table. "I remember being given candy and my anticipation to see if they were real. When I turned my eyes to my fists to see my gift, all of a sudden I was away from my mother. I remember the fear I felt. I cried and shouted. I was in a room surrounded by coloured curtains, green, red, yellow. The light of day was gone. Two kids came into the room and pulled me out," remembers Ms Perikkentis. These kids were Mr Neofytou and the waiter. Those moments have been imprinted into his Dandenong Greek Community Hall receives new funding Dandenong's Greek Community will receive $150,000 from the Andrews Labor Government's Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund for a major upgrade to the Dandenong Greek Community Hall, which is in desperate need of restoration. The announcement was made by Member for Dandenong, Gabrielle Williams on Thursday. "By working together with local multicultural communities, we can build a Dandenong where everyone belongs, feels accepted and can freely par- ticipate and contribute," she said. "On behalf of the Dandenong Greek Community we wish to thank the Andrews Labor Government and our Member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams for their amazing support and most generous grant," said Steve Karamoschos, President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Dandenong & Districts. "The grant will enable us to upgrade our Community hall, provide better access to our members and the Greater Dandenong community." Miltiadis Neofytou in his home in Bowen, North Queensland. memory; the search around the streets of the port within the large crowd, the basement with the coloured curtain, the person that assisted him in the search and the little girl that was sitting there, quietly: "I'd become friends with one of the waiters at the hotel, so I asked my friend if he could help me find (the girl) and he said yes. So we just started walking,” he remembers. "I saw her and I yelled 'there she is.' Helen Perikkentis shares a picture of the family that she moved to Australia with. Then a group of people turned around and ran. So I walked in and picked her up, then walked her by the hand to her mother." After that, the two children boarded the ship safely and resumed their journey to Australia. Fast-forward to 2018, when a much older Helen Perikkentis was attending a funeral during which she had a conversation with a man who told her a story about his friend that owns a hotel up in Queensland and saved a little girl from abduction during his younger days. "That girl is me," she immediately thought to herself and asked for the details of the man. "She started talking and I was like 'Oh my God'. I felt tears in my eyes, I never stopped thinking about that girl. I always thought of her like a daughter and wondered what happened to her," says Mr Neofytou. "I told that story of- ten. I told it to most Greeks who have stayed at my hotel. I hadn't given up on the idea that someday I might find that little girl. To me she's still a little girl and that's how I remember her." Ms Perikkentis had similar thoughts about the person that rescued her: "I told that story to everyone. Now I understand why. I thought that someday I would meet this man again to thank him. I owe him my life." After a brief phone conversation, they arranged a meeting for the day after Christmas in Bowen, which they're both looking forward to. "I'm overwhelmed I'm going to meet him after 59 years. I always wondered what happened to him and there wasn't a time when I didn't think about him or his family. Someone could have bought me at five years old and sold me off as a slave. But he allowed me to grow up with my family which is the most precious thing of all," says Ms Perikkentis. Curtain opens on 25th Greek Film Festival The Delphi Bank 25th Greek Film Festival kicked off in Melbourne on Wednesday night with director Pantelis Voulgaris' gripping historical drama The Last Note (2017). Starring Andreas Konstantinou, the film is based on the true story of 34-year-old Napoleon Soukatzidis who served as an interpreter for the German commander in charge of the Haidari concentration camp, Lieutenant Karl Fischer, and became one of the 200 resistance fighters who were executed in Kaisariani on 1 May, 1944. The anticipated opening took place at the historic Astor Theatre in St Kilda, where attendees were treated to movie snacks with a Greek twist, including popcorn sprinkled with saganaki, and drinks. Ahead of the film, festival director Jorge Menides presented a number of speakers who addressed those gathered in the single screen cinema, including President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis, Head of Delphi Bank Jim Sarris, Greek Consul General Dimitrios Michalopoulos, Labor Member for Oakleigh Steve Dimopoulos MP, and Liberal Member for Prahran Katie Allen MP. But it was RMIT's Lect-Industry Fellow in Broadcast Joumalism, Phillip Kafcaloudes who brought the film to life for the audience, with the revelation that his own grandfather, also a journalist, was in fact one of the 200 people executed in Kaisariani. After the screening, the festivities continued with entertainment by Mikri Kompania. The festival also opened this week in Sydney and Adelaide, and will make its way to Canberra, Brisbane and Perth later this month. To see the festival program and to book tickets, visit http://greekfilmfestival.com.au RMIT fellow Phillip Kafcaloudes, Delphi Bank Head Jim Sarris, GCM President Bill Papastergiadis, Victorian Liberal MP Katie Allen, Greek Consul Dimitrios Michalopoulos, Victorian Labor MPs Nick Staikos and Steve Dimopoulos spoke at the opening. PHOTOS: KOSTAS DEVES PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES The iconic Astor theatre was flooded with cinemagoers. Mikri Kompania performed after the screening.
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